I bet when you think of Costa Rica you think of a tropical climate, rain forests, monkeys, beautiful beaches surrounded by mountains, and people wearing warm-weather clothes. Well, I've got news for you. It's been raining all day, every day, since the weekend. People are bundled in parkas suited for upstate New York weather. I haven't seen the sun in days. And honestly, I don't really want to leave my house; all I want to do is lay under some warm blankets and read and do under-warm-blankets things like sleep. And occasionally get up to cook something yummy. But forget about the outside world.
Ok, so this might sound like a bit of an exaggeration. I'm guessing it's probably in the low 60s right now, which for upstate New Yorkers is heaven. But it's sort of a crisis for us guys down south. See, rainy season is a downer. It lasts just as long as a winter in New York, and is equally depressing. If you're like me and have to take three different buses to get to university, chances are, you'll get entirely soaked walking just 100 meters from the last bus stop to your school (of course with an umbrella!).
Gustavo tries to help me look at the positive side of rainy season (and everything, as a matter of fact), when all I can see are ruined shoes, wet feet, months of being sick or having allergies, nasty people in buses dripping their wet umbrella on you (and the windows of the bus are closed to not let rain in), which also means no fresh air to free you from all the germs floating in the air. He says that rainy season makes things green (yes, Costa Rica is green and beautiful!), and also that if we didn't have rainy season, we wouldn't be able to appreciate dry season as much.
-The feel and smell of freshly washed sheets on a freshly changed bed
-The peaceful sound of rain (not downpour) helps me to sleep all nice and cozy
-I just changed the position of one of my plants; I moved it from my room to the living room/ dining room because it was damaging the wood floor in my bedroom, and it looks great where it now is
-This is not so simple, but, being able to cook. I mean physically, mentally, everything. Being given the gift of walking, reading, and having all of my senses in tact.
-Reading and getting involved in a good book (I just finished Lunch in Paris, a Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard)
-Talking with my fam on the phone
-Gelato that is sold here in tiny sizes (a large is the size of an American small!) and is soooo yummy
-Dreaming in foreign languages
-Hot cocoa on a chilly day
-Looking ahead and leaving the past behind
Here's a wonderful, spicy recipe from south of the border that will heat you up on a cool day!
Masa crêpes with spinach, chiles, and cilantro
Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
For the crepes:
1 ½ cups milk (skim is fine)
½ cup masa harina, roasted corn flour, or fine cornmeal (I used Maseca harina de maíz)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
3 TBSP melted butter or oil
For the spinach filling:
1 ½ TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1-2 jalapeño chiles, finely diced (depending on heat you want; I used canned)
Pinch of dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 to 3 large bunches of spinach (may substitute chard here), stems removed and roughly chopped if very large
⅓ to ½ cup plain yogurt (may use sour cream)
Grated cheese; I used cheddar because I was unable to find the recommendations: Oaxacan string cheese, queso blanco, Jack, or Muenster (optional)**
Blend all the ingredients for the crepes together in a blender until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Let rest while you make the filling; the batter will thicken slightly.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeños, and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, a few minutes. Add garlic and cilantro and cook for a few minutes more. Add the spinach (with a little water still clinging to its leaves from rinsing) and stir occasionally until it's completely wilted/ tender. Stir in the yogurt to the desired consistency.
Cook the crepes in a 10-inch skillet*. Stack on a plate after cooking to keep warm. With the prettier side facing down, spread half the crepe with the spinach mixture, add a little cheese**, then fold again into quarters.
*Note: The original recipe recommends using an 8-inch skillet. However, I only have 6 and 10-inch ones. Next time I might use the 6-inch one, because I found the crepe to spinach ratio was too big.
**Note: The meal was so yummy I forgot to add the cheese I had shredded, and didn't even realize until after finishing the meal. It's up to you how much and what kind you would like to add to the crepes before serving.